Diablo IV (PlayStation 5) Review

By Justin Prinsloo 24.03.2024

Review for Diablo IV on PlayStation 5

The Diablo series is one of the medium's oldest and most formative. Originally debuting in 1996, the pioneering ARPG has travelled a long way to become the franchise it is today. After Diablo III's shaky launch in 2012 but ultimately positive legacy, Blizzard Entertainment has turned its efforts to a new entry: one which aims to evolve the series by bringing it into the current gen and providing a touchpoint for Diablo enthusiasts for years to come.

The Diablo entries have often endearingly been referred to as the 'junk food of gaming'. The moniker isn't entirely unwarranted; by nature, the process of endlessly hunting for rarer and more powerful loot offers a quick and easy shot of dopamine that's always readily available. This time around, the gameplay loop of clearing out dungeons in search of rare weapons, items and armour is as addictive as ever, with some welcome additions that serve to bring Diablo into the modern era, as well as a not-so-welcome seasonal Battle Pass that's a disappointing and cynical mainstay for modern Blizzard titles. The less said about that, the better.

While Diablo III was something of a departure from previous titles due to its more diverse colour palette and less obscene imagery, Diablo IV returns to the dark, grim and gory aesthetic of earlier entries. This time around, Lilith, Daughter of Hatred and self-proclaimed Mother of Sanctuary, has her sights set on plunging the humans of Sanctuary into sin. It's up to the player character to stop her, following in her wake of destruction until an ultimate showdown that precedes the coveted endgame content. There's a tone of hopelessness that permeates the massive open world of Sanctuary, and long-time fans of the series will surely be pleased to note this gory and sinister return to form.

Screenshot for Diablo IV on PlayStation 5

The most pertinent upgrades that Diablo IV has over its predecessors are in the AV department. Graphically, Diablo IV has been blessed with gorgeous lighting, beautiful environmental assets and well-implemented visual effects that truly steal the show. As excellent as the visual design is, though, it's in the sound department that Diablo IV is brought to life. A brilliant soundtrack conveys the somber tone the experience aims for, while auditory feedback from the many, many attacks at the player's disposal never become stale.

Speaking of attacks, Diablo's latest outing offers the choice of five character classes: Barbarian, Necromancer, Sorcerer, Rogue and Druid, each with distinct skill trees and class perks to distinguish their gameplay. For those who struggle to choose a class, fear not; much of Diablo IV's progression is tied to the world rather than the character, making the decision of switching to a new class hours into the experience a much more palatable prospect. While class-specific progress is, of course, individual to each character, the majority of currency and crafting resources carry over, as does the player's progress towards de-fogging the overworld map. There's also a handy respec mechanic that encourages build experimentation, which is most welcome as well.

Screenshot for Diablo IV on PlayStation 5

As it goes, the explorable world is massive. Across six acts, pretty much the whole of Diablo IV's overworld will be trodden by the adventurous player, and that's not counting the myriad procedurally generated dungeons to discover and conquer. At times, it feels a little too bloated, even for an experience that markets itself as endless (it's all about that endgame, after all). This makes it all the more senseless that a rideable mount isn't unlocked until well into the campaign, when most of the map has been discovered already. In shedding the multiple isolated environments of Diablo III in favour of a single overworld, Diablo IV too often falls into that dreaded quantity over quality trap that plagues many modern open-world titles. Not even the trademark Diablo addictiveness can cure that.

So, it falls to the gameplay and class build variety to alleviate this tension. While the classes do feel distinct and varied, each with their own fun quirks to discover, there is a bit of a problem with the aggressiveness of enemy level scaling. Both enemies and mission levels scale along with the player character, which can contribute to a sense that one is never actually progressing. That isn't to say it's not possible to craft a fun, broken build further into the experience — but the frustration of always feeling stuck on a single, level platform is at odds with the power fantasy it feels like this world should be providing.

Screenshot for Diablo IV on PlayStation 5

This causes a tug-of-war between Diablo IV's undeniable addictiveness and a disappointing sense that the grind doesn't have enough of a payoff. It's easy to fall into a rhythm here, and if that particular rhythm isn't to the individual player's tastes, it can feel tedious. Treading through overly recycled dungeon layouts only serves to heighten this perception.

Again, though, Diablo is all about that "junk food" appeal — perhaps plumbing its depths for anything more is unfair. It's there to be enjoyed for what it is, even if it feels like it ushers players through the campaign as quickly as possible in order to get to its post-game content, which it has no shame about highlighting as the real meat of the experience. Whether it remains engaging for long enough to see players arrive there is another matter; mileage in this department will vary.

Screenshot for Diablo IV on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


There's a fair bit to like about Diablo IV — best-in-class sound design, intriguing character classes, fantastic graphics and occasionally addictive gameplay all feel like the series in its prime. However, even the best parts are let down by an undercurrent of frustrating design choices: the cynical inclusion of a Battle Pass, a bloated open world, repetitive mission structure and progression that too often feels meaningless cast a long shadow that let the latest Diablo title down. Future Seasons may refine what's here, but many of its issues sadly feel baked into the core experience. All but the most die-hard fans may wish to wait for a substantial sale on this one.






Real Time RPG



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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